I suppose I could just lie and tell you that the fishing was great last weekend, that I tricked so many fish into buying what I was selling that I was the envy of everyone on the riverbank.
But lies are what fisherman tell. And apparently, I’m not a fisherman. Or, at least, not a very good one.
In fact, I probably should not have taken the weekend off from my radio gig in Washington, D.C., just to go on a fruitless fishing trip.
I know what you’re thinking, that a “bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.” But if I had showed up for my shift, at least I would have been more productive.
Instead, I returned to work this week with no “fish tale” to tell my co-workers, no yarn to make their eyes pop in disbelief. And, more importantly, no story that would justify my new fishing pole to them.
A few months ago, they chuckled sceptically when my new pole arrived at my cubicle. I chose it above all the other gifts my employer offered to those of us marking milestone anniversaries.
I wanted to prove my co-workers wrong and hoped my weekend trout fishing trip to the Blackwater River near my brother’s place in Canaan Valley would do the trick.
No such luck.
All I came away with was a cautionary tale of obsession. Nothing on the scale of the fictional Captain Ahab’s single-minded pursuit of the white whale, but obsession, nonetheless.
After arriving along the Blackwater last Friday evening, a couple of cronies and I fished for a few hours. We didn’t get any bites, but I wasn’t worried. We assured ourselves we’d fill our coolers the next day and have fresh trout for dinner.
It didn’t work out that way. Aside from one of my friends catching a fish too small to keep, we barely got any nibbles.
My only consolation? No one else fishing near us seemed to have much success, either.
The next day I woke before anyone else and set out for the river, determined to turn our fortunes around and at least catch ONE fish with my new pole before leaving for home later that morning.
That’s when I came across my own white whale, the fish that mocked me for the next of couple of hours.
I first saw it treading water near the riverbank where I was casting my line. It was a good-sized trout and seemed to be offering itself up to be hooked.
I say seemed because getting hooked was the last thing it wanted to do. It really just wanted to toy with me.
I did everything to land that fish, but it wouldn’t take the bait. I think it actually shrugged its fishy little fins at everything I threw at it.
I even tried talking it onto my hook, promising to release it if only it would let me take a selfie of the two of us together as if we were old friends. I wanted photographic evidence to help make the case to my co-workers that choosing a fishing pole was better than settling for a pair of cufflinks I’ll never wear.
But that fish just went on mocking me. Then it mocked my friends when they finally showed up to try their luck catching it.
When we finally ran out patience and began packing up to leave, I swear that fish thumbed its nose at us.
Since it never took my hook, I’m not sure if that fish qualifies as “the one that got away.” But if Captain Ahab can travel to the ends of the earth in pursuit of his nemesis, the least I can do is go after that fish, again.
After all, I’ve still got a selfie to take.
And, I don’t care what I have to do to get it.